debt collector

Can a Debt Collector Take My VA or Social Security Benefits?

When a debt collector successfully sues you in court, you become legally obligated to pay the amount owed. To collect the debt, a debt collector can obtain a court order requiring your bank or credit union to take money from your account. This process is called garnishment. Although a debt collector that wins a judgment against you in court may legally garnish funds from your account, certain federal benefits receive special protection from garnishment. In this article, we examine whether a debt collector can take your VA or Social Security benefits. 

Benefits Protected from Garnishment

Certain types of benefits receive protection from garnishment. However, some of these only receive protection for a certain period of time. In addition, some benefits are subject to garnishment to pay child support, spousal support, and certain federal debts. Therefore, if you’ve received a garnishment order, you should consult with an attorney to determine the degree to which your benefits will be protected. Benefits that are subject to some level of protection from garnishment include:

  • Social Security benefits
  • Supplemental Security Income benefits
  • VA benefits
  • Civil service, federal retirement, and disability benefits
  • Service member pay
  • Military annuities and survivor benefits
  • Federal student aid
  • Railroad retirement benefits
  • Financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency 

The Garnishment Process 

If you are sued by a debt collector in court and lose, the court may order your bank or credit union to garnish certain funds in your account. If this happens, you will receive a notice of garnishment. Usually, a garnishment notice will explain the process for claiming any exemptions from garnishment and having your funds released. In determining whether to garnish your funds, the judge in your case will examine several factors, including the source of your income and any applicable state or federal exemptions.

As noted above, certain benefits are entitled to special protection from garnishment. Therefore, if you are sued and lose, it is important that the judge in your case knows whether any of your money comes from VA, Social Security, or other federal or state benefits. Therefore, upon receipt of a garnishment order, you should immediately provide the court with information regarding your benefits. In addition, you should contact a debt collection lawsuit defense attorney for assistance. 

Contact a California Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney 

If you’ve been sued by a debt collector in California, you need an experienced California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney in your corner. At the Fullman Firm, our debt collection lawsuit defense lawyers have over 40 years of combined experience protecting the rights of consumers. When you come to us for assistance, we will guide you through the legal process and do everything in our power to ensure that your case has a successful outcome. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.